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Government accuses Greenpeace of "forum shopping"; HC favours NGO

New Delhi: Government today charged Greenpeace India with indulging in "forum shopping" to get relief, but did not succeed in Delhi High Court to stop the NGO from withdrawing its plea challenging suspension of its
PTI September 17, 2015 23:06 IST
PTI

New Delhi: Government today charged Greenpeace India with indulging in "forum shopping" to get relief, but did not succeed in Delhi High Court to stop the NGO from withdrawing its plea challenging suspension of its FCRA registration and freezing of five bank accounts.

The move by the Greenpeace came a day after Madras High Court stayed for eight weeks the order cancelling its registration under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

Observing that the NGO cannot be forced to pursue the matter here, Justice R S Endlaw said "accordingly, writ petition is dismissed as withdrawn."

The court clarified that since Greenpeace has decided not to pursue the matter, it was open to the government to take whatever action permissible under the law for transactions carried out by the NGO under the interim order defreezing two of its domestic accounts.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, representing Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), opposed the NGO's plea and said the MHA was considering moving the Supreme Court to get the plea before Madras HC transferred to Delhi.

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He vigorously accused the NGO of indulging in "forum shopping" to get relief and said the Ministry was "caught by surprise" by the Greenpeace move as the issue pertaining to its FCRA registration was being determined in New Delhi.

Jain said Greenpeace had moved Madras HC claiming its offices, records, legal advisors and other officials were located in Chennai and it would be convenient for it to challenge cancellation of FCRA registration there.

The court, however, said "whether move to Madras HC was proper or not is to be decided by that court or the Supreme Court."

"All pleas taken by the government before this court would remain unaffected by withdrawal of the petition and can be taken up before Madras HC.

"The petitioner having chosen not to pursue this petition and not having sought liberty, cannot be forced to pursue this petition," it said.